NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – The Employment and Labour Relations Court on Wednesday suspended the reappointment of Gitonga Mugambi as CEO of the National Irrigation Authority for another three-year term.
Judge Hellen Wasilwa, sitting in Nairobi, halted the reappointment pending hearing of a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah against Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and the National Irrigation Board.
“The applicant has proved there is an arguable case and therefore directs it be heard interpartes hearing on August 25, 2020,” the Judge ruled.
Omtatah claimed CS Kariuki through a letter dated June 23 purported to act on the Board’s recommendation to reappoint Mugambi.
The activist asked the court to declare the action as null and void since there is no valid board in office since the terms of members appointed under the repealed Act by the President expired in 2018.
He stated that the only independent member of the board is Eng. Joshua Toro, who was appointed by the President as Chairperson for a three-year term beginning January 9, 2019.
The court was told that the board ought to have to have nine members to make such a recommendation.
“Due to the above, the recommendation by the Board to the Cabinet Secretary for the reappointment of Gitonga Mugambi was invalid as the Board could not raise a quorum to transact business,” he argued.
Under the Irrigation Act, 2019, Omtatah argued, a CEO of the Authority is recruited competitively.
Gitonga was reportedly appointed in May 2016 in an acting capacity pending a competitive recruitment of the substantive office holder.
In August 2017 Gitonga was confirmed in the position for a term of three years without being subjected to a transparent, competitive, inclusive, and merit-based recruitment process open to public participation, the petitioner told the court.
Omatatah said Gitonga’s appointment was done contrary to the Public Service Commission Act 2017.